We all want to look fresh-faced and younger, and makeup can be a great aid to that. Keep in mind that your makeup style needs to evolve and adapt to your changing skin as you age. Tried and true techniques from your high school years will no longer cut it 15, 20, or 30 years later. You might be an old hand at applying your makeup, and if you’re not careful, you can end up looking older, too. We’ve compiled a list of the most common makeup mistakes that will actually add years instead of removing them. Keep reading to find out if you’re committing any of these aging mistakes and what you can do to correct them.
Foundation faux pas
Foundation forms the base of any look, but as you age you need to be aware that your foundation needs will change. As Maybelline New York artist Melissa Silver explains, “No foundation is better than bad foundation, but good foundation is best.” If you skip foundation, your skin tone will be uneven. If you apply your foundation too heavily, it can settle into fine lines and creases, highlighting your imperfections.
Use a formula that is heavy enough to smooth out your complexion without becoming cakey. Drier skin is common as you age, so you may be happier with a liquid or cream foundation, or even a tinted moisturizer, instead of a powder foundation which can make your skin look flaky. Finally, even if you’ve been using the same shade of foundation since 8th grade, don’t forget to check for a better match or formulation occasionally — you may be surprised at the results!
Unless you’re actually in high school, don’t apply blush to the apples of your cheeks. You also want to avoid using too much blush, applying it too low, or picking the wrong shade. Los Angeles celebrity makeup artist Jan Ping lays it on the line: “There was a certain era when more was better when it came to blush, and you can still spot those women today because they’re still piling it on.”
Avoid shades that are too brown or red, because they can look muddy when applied. Instead, pinch your cheeks and try to find a blush that matches the natural shade that results. Opt for a cream formulation instead of powder to avoid a flaky finish. Apply a small amount to the center of your cheekbone and sweep upward and back. Make sure to blend well. This will give an instant lift to your face along with a youthful glow.
Lining the bottom lash line in black
Heavy liner on the bottom lid is aging for many reasons. It makes your eyes look smaller, it accentuates the fine lines surrounding the eyes, and it drags down your whole face. To keep things looking youthful, you want your eyes to appear brighter and more open. You can do this many different ways. First, would be to keep the bottom lash liner light.
“Use a deep brown eyeshadow and an angled brush instead of a hard black kohl pencil,” explains Washington DC-based makeup artist Ariel Lewis. “Keep gel liner away from the bottom. Use it only on the top of your lids.” And she reminds us that it’s O.K. to have black liner on the top lid and brown liner on the bottom. Simply blend the brown eyeshadow to from the inner to the outter corner of the bottom lid. You can even wet the brush for a little more control.
Another tip is to use white or nude liner on the bottom waterline Missy Lowe, Oranj Studio makeup artist, explains. “It brightens your eyes and creates a youthful glow.” This is a perfect option for the no-makeup, makeup look.
When it comes to concealer, one size does not fit all. A concealer perfect for covering spots or blemishes will likely be way too thick for under-eye use. Makeup artist Lavonne explains the ways people usually go wrong with concealer: “If the concealer is too thick or not the right color, you’re accentuating more than you are concealing. Skin under the eye is seven times thinner than the rest of your face, so a light touch is necessary.”
Use a lightweight formulation for under-eye use, and pick a shade that matches your skin tone. If you have purplish circles, you can get a color with a yellow or peach undertone to counteract it. Don’t go with super-light shades, which will make you look ashy or give you the “reverse-raccoon” appearance. Apply only to the inner corner of your under-eye area, and gently blend and sweep outwards and downwards.
It’s a fact of life: our eyebrows naturally grow thinner as we age, which can be accelerated by years over-plucking through the years. “As we age, our brows naturally thin both in thickness and from the ends,” explains licensed makeup and eyebrow artist Pamela Jeschonek of Everyday Esthetics Eyebrow Studio. “Brows also fall as part of the natural aging process, so they do not sit as high on the brow bone as they did when we were younger.” So for a more youthful-looking brow, think full and arched. You can start by filling in with a brow powder. “Powder can add lost fullness and is quick and easy to learn,” Jeschonek explains.
You also want the brows to keep from looking too sharp and stern, which the powder will help with too. “As you age you should stay away from cream based brow products,” explains DC-based makeup artist Ariel Lewis. “They tend to apply too harsh of a line.” Lewis recommends using Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo. So with the correct color powder, trace a bit outside the natural brow line to add a bit of width.
And to add a little lift, trace the arch a little bit higher on the top of the brow, not from underneath. “Just as we would outline the brow just outside the root line to give it thickness, you want to gently raise the top of the arch using your powder on top of the brow line,” explains Jeschonek. “It takes a little practice, but it’s magic.” So don’t be afraid of going outside the lines of your natural brow, just keep it light and feathery. With the correct technique and shade, you can fake it for younger looking brows in just seconds.
You may adore it, but metallic eye shadow can really age you if your eyelids aren’t as taut as they once were — and, unfortunately, that’s just a natural part of aging. These fun shimmer shadows can enhance and draw attention to wrinkles and fine lines in this area. “Metallic, shimmer and glitter shadows can settle into the fine lines and ‘crackle’ around the eyes,” explains Oranj Studio makeup artist Missy Lowe. “The best bet to create a flawless look is to use either matte or satin finish shadows.”
However, makeup artist Ariel Lewis explains that if you really do want to wear metallic, especially around the holidays, keep it in the center of your lid. “Putting them on the corners of your eyelids brings more attention to the fine lines that tend to settle in that area.”
Another way you can incorporate the shimmer without aging yourself is to use fine pearl shadow. “Choose one that’s light and not too-sparkly,” explains Ilia Beauty founder Sasha Plavsic. “It’s nice to use fine pearl as a base and layer over top with a non-shimmer shadow to soften the look.”
Lipstick that’s too dark
Our lips become thinner and lose definition as we grow older. Unless you plan on going crazy with the liner to overdraw your lips, you’ll want to start easing away from darker shades, which make your lips look thinner. Jan Ping outlines her plan for perfect lips: “I like to start with lip liner, and use a nice neutral shade that’s just a bit bolder than the person’s natural lip color,” she says. “I line the lips and then I fill in the rest with a tinted gloss. A lot of women are really stuck on the idea of always using heavy lipstick, but I think that gloss gives a softer, more youthful appearance.”
Setting makeup with powder
It’s been recommended time and time again to use powder on top of any cream formulas to make them longer lasting. But as you age, your skin produces less oil. “With dryer skin, powder tends to seep into fine lines,” explains makeup artist Ariel Lewis. “Try using a setting spray instead!” She recommends trying Urban Decay All Night Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray.
Wear bright colors
We know a bright pop of color in your makeup look is fun. But once you reach a certain age, it’s more likely to look out of place, and might even make you look older. “It would similar to wearing a mini skirt — some mature women will pull it off better than a teenager,” explains Ilia Beauty founder Sasha Plavsic. “But for many others it may not be age appropriate.” She says colors like “bright blues, purples [and] greens tend to highlight features that point to a woman’s age.”
And she’s not alone in this opinion. DC-based makeup artist Ariel Lewis also recommends to stay away from bright colors. “The days of wearing blue eyeshadow should be behind you.” She recommends that you try darker more muted colors — such as navy instead of bright blue, or deep jade instead of green.
Bright, glowing skin equals youthful-looking skin. But it takes the proper placement of such a glow to make it work in your benefit. There are certain areas of the face where mature women shouldn’t wear highlighter. “You don’t want to apply a shimmery highlighter on your brow bone — that can look dated and tends to pull down the eye,” explains celebrity makeup artist Suzy Gerstein.
Another area you don’t want to apply it? “In your smile lines or in the crease of the eye,” she tells us. “Both tend to emphasize crepey texture.” So you want to highlight more taut areas, such as the center of the eye or the cheekbones. And if you are going to highlight, she recommends sticking to a liquid highlighter.
Wear too much mascara on the bottom lashes
This is similar to the wearing heavy liner only on the bottom lash line. Celebrity makeup artist Suzy Gerstein explains that heavy mascara on the bottom lashes can cast a shadows and flake, creating the illusion of dark circles — it can even pull the eye down as a whole. “I’m really into the Tightline mascara by It Cosmetics,” she explains. “It allows you to get right into the roots without clumping, and functions almost as eyeliner.” So if you are going to wear mascara on the bottom, keep it clean and tight.
Less is more
So the general tip to keep makeup from aging you? Less is more. Keep things light and natural. And even when you want a splash of a little something extra, keep it at a minimum. But as Oranj Studio makeup artist Missy Lowe tells us, “Most makeup rules are meant to be broken, so don’t be afraid to try new thin